If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, we certainly understand your frustration. Luckily, this is a treatable condition in most cases. A medical exam, as well as a few simple changes can help to re-establish proper litter box use.
The first step includes taking your cat to your veterinarian. Whenever a cat suddenly eliminates outside of the litter box, it's strongly advised to get a physical exam including urine analysis and in some cases blood work in order to rule out any illness or injury that may be causing the behavior. Once a medical reason for the lapse in litter box use has been ruled out, you want to consider behavioral reasons.
There are two main behavioral reasons for failure to eliminate in an established litter box. One is marking, which is a form of communication. The second one is inappropriate elimination, which is a toileting behavior. Both behaviors may occur for a variety of reasons.
This is a normal feline behavior; some cats use urine as a form of communication. In order to get the marking behavior under control, you need to do a number of things all at once.
1. Because the odor of urine draws cats back to previously marked areas, you will have to clean all soiled areas with an enzymatic cleanser. You should use a black light to help you locate all the spots in your house; urine will glow yellow-green in the dark. As the amounts are often small you might be missing areas where your cat sprays. Additionally, it is key to implement excellent litter box hygiene, which has been proven to significantly decrease the incidence of spraying.
2. Try to identify any new stressors in your cat's life. Once you have been able to do so, work to change or remove them. This can be done simply by blocking your cat's view of strange cats with curtains on the front window. However, keep in mind that the outside cats might be marking the outside of your door. In this case, you need to deter stray cats from coming near your front door or window, and you will have to clean those areas as well. Deterring cats from coming to your yard or front door can be done with motion activated deterrents. It can also help to initially confine your cat to a separate part of the house where she is more comfortable.
3. Enrich your cat's environment by providing more resting and hiding places, multiple feeding locations, scratching boxes and posts, and interactive toys. Meal times can be made more interesting by hiding small quantities of food around the house or using food dispensing toys to keep an indoor cat busy and less worried about things going on outside the home.
4. A feline facial pheromone, Feliway®, is another option that may help decrease the urine marking.
This document created by the San Francisco SPCA with a grant from Maddie's Fund®